Transcript: Thom Hartmann: What the Reagan Revolution has brought us... - 27 June '13

Thom Hartmann: And greetings my friends, patriots, lovers of democracy, truth and justice, believers in peace, freedom and the American way, Thom Hartmann here with you.

Oh a lot going on. Ecuador says, you know they said, ‘Well it might take you know a couple days to process Ed Snowden’s papers or in the case of Julian Assange it took us two weeks.’ And so the newspapers are reporting that Ed Snowden is going to sleep in the Moscow Airport for two weeks. I still have doubts about whether he is even there. Nobody saw him get on the plane in Hong Kong. No one saw him on the plane from Hong Kong to Moscow. Not one person has come forward. I mean somebody would love to get the media spotlight, right? Or the, you know, get paid for the national enquirer, I mean there’s a lot of publications that will pay for stories like this. To get some money for saying, ‘Yeah I sat next to this guy, now that I’ve seen his picture, sure, that’s the guy I sat next to on the airplane.’ No. Or, ‘That’s the guy I passed going to the bathroom.’ Whatever. Nobody saw him on the airplane, nobody saw him in the airport in Moscow, at all, anywhere, there has not been one single published picture and not one single published report from anybody who says yes I saw him. Increasingly I’m thinking that Vladimir Putin is having the last laugh, going, ‘Oh yeah, maybe he’s in the airport, or he is in the airport, that’s it.’ I mean come, the guy used to run a spy agency, deflect public, confuse people, he is very good at that, you would think. I’m wondering, I mean there was that Icelandic billionaire who had his private jet there in Hong Kong. I am wondering if Snowden worked something out and they hopped on the plane and he’s been sitting in a cabana in Ecuador or you know on a beach some place for the last week, you know, just sipping mai tais. Who knows. Anyhow, there’s that.

In New York, paid sick leave just became the law, thanks to Michael Blumberg. We will be debating that in the next hour with Scottie Nell Hughes of the Tea Party News Network. Debbie Hines is going to drop by in our third hour. Some interesting, I was over at the TV studios before I, I do that before I come here to set up the TV shows, and you know we’ve got all the big, all the networks on the wall. And some interesting testimony from this woman who was a friend of Trayvon Martin’s and was talking to him at the time that George Zimmerman attacked him, and particularly interesting how George Zimmerman’s lawyer tried to take her apart. So we will check in with Debbie Hines on that. That will be in our third hour today. And robotic pigeon pranksters taking over Tokyo? I’ll tell you about that too. So a lot going on.

But in the 48 hours since the Supreme Court gutted Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, I think this is probably the biggest news. Six of the nine states that have been subject to the laws preclearance formula have already taken steps to restrict voting. In Texas, just two hour after Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision came down, the Attorney General issued a statement saying that Texas voter id laws and gerrymandering plans could go into effect immediately. And similar actions are being taken in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Virginia, to gerrymander and to suppress the vote.

But this war against voters didn’t begin on Tuesday or last week or last month or even last year. The war against voters started in 1980 when Ronald Reagan, or 1981, when Ronald Reagan took over the presidency. In fact it started in 1980 before he even stepped foot inside the White House. Reagan’s first speech during his campaign for the presidency took place in the Neshoba County Fair in Neshoba County Mississippi, Philadelphia Mississippi, which at that time was a white supremacist stronghold. Reagan’s campaign chose that event and that area for his first campaign speech to get racist votes. Why would you say there racist votes? Well Neshoba County was, this was where three civil rights activists were murdered in 1964. They made a movie about it. They were shot to death by racists who were enraged by the idea of African Americans having not only equal rights, but the right to vote, to vote. During his presidency Reagan opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 openly. In fact he said that the Voting Rights Act was “humiliating to the South."

In the years since Reagan took office and since the Reagan revolution has spread across America pretty much everyone in the United States is, not pretty much everybody, but a large chunk of this country, particularly the so-called republicans and moderates, or independents, have taken the position that you know, everybody shouldn’t have a voice in our democracy, and you know, American ain’t all that great, I mean we hate our government, right? How can you have a great country if you’ve got a lousy government? The fundamental assumption of Reaganomics is that America is bad. Government is not the solution to your problems, government is the problem. Government is bad, America is bad. That’s the founding core principal of Reaganomics and Tea Party-nomics. And besides losing faith in the very foundations of our nation, consider some of the other things that America has lost since the not so good old days of Reagan.

To start with we’ve lost our ability to keep corporations in check, to prevent them from stealing millions from the working class. Thanks to Reagan corporate theft and illegal behaviors have skyrocketed because he did away with government oversight and regulation of corporate America. As a result, since the Reagan revolution, corporations have run rough-shot over our economy and our democracy. Reagan’s policies led to one of the greatest financial scandals in American history, the savings and loan debacle which caused tax payers billions of dollars and set the stage for weak banking regulations of today. And if people like Senator Phil Gramm, following Reagan’s philosophies, hadn’t done away with regulation oversight of America’s big banks, the financial scandals that have taken place over the last decade would never have happened.

Meanwhile as Reagan was helping out corporate America he was waging an all-out war on labor in America. His attacks on organized labor in America and the NLRB drove down employee wages. His all-out assault on labor and his staunch opposition of the minimum wage led to three decades of flat wages while CEO and executive pay went through the roof. Between 1983 and 1988 Reagan’s policies led to ten million Americans losing their jobs through an epidemic of plant closings and lay-offs and of those ten million who lost their jobs many were forced to take lower paying jobs. The middle class began to crumble during the Reagan presidency. Under Reagan the number of families living below the poverty line exploded by a third and these same families were then hit by Reagan’s cuts to social welfare programs like Medicaid and food stamps. Oh and let us not forget ketchup is a vegetable for school lunches.

Since Reagan took office the share of total before tax income flowing to the top 1% of Americans has doubled. The destruction of our economy since Reagan took office is largely thanks to his failed theory of trickle-down economics which has over and over and over again been debunked. I just spent a half hour with Ralph Nader. You can see it on TV next Friday, a week from Friday. And he is just like, ‘Yeah, that’s where it all began.’ Since Reagan was so obsessed with this notion, actually he says, you know a lot of it also began in the ‘70s with the Powell memo. Since Reagan was so obsessed with this notion he did nothing to reduce the levels of poverty and the growing income gap in America.

But a strong economy and government oversight of corporate America are not the only things we have lost since Reagan stepped foot inside the white house. We have lost trust in our government. After all, the Reagan administration was one of the most corrupt in American history, including by one estimate 31 Reagan-era convictions including 14 convictions in the Iran Contra affair and 16 in the Department of Housing and Urban Development scandal. Over 183 appointees of the Reagan administration either resigned under an ethical cloud or were indicted criminally. Reaganomics continues to devastate this nation and Reagan’s philosophy that America is bad, that our government has no value, that our government is the problem not the solution, continues to damage our body politic.


Thom Hartmann: So what else did Reagan do? I mean this is incredible. In the early 1980s, you know, they had, he rebooted Social Security. It was one of the things that you could argue he did well although I would say he did it wrong, because he doubled the taxes on working people, literally doubled the tax, the social security tax on working people, and put a cap on it that was inflation adjusted but the cap at that time was around $40,000 a year of maximum amount of income. And after that you didn’t have to pay a social security tax. So the upper middle class and very wealthy people pay, you know, virtually nothing. I mean very extremely wealthy people, not even a fragment of a percent of their income into social security whereas all of the income of working people now up to 113 or 118,000 dollars a year, is taxed for social security at a rate that is twice what it was before Reagan came into office. So he doubled the tax on working people. And cut, of course, by almost two thirds, the income tax on really rich people.

But see that still didn’t solve social security’s problem and so he went to the Social Security administrators and said, ‘Come up with a way to cut the costs to Social Security.’ Well Social Security at that time, you know, Social Security, well not just at that time, even today, not only provides a buffer for people in retirement, people over 65, it’s poverty insurance basically. But that’s two thirds of what Social Security does. A third of what Social Security does is it provides for the widows, orphans and disabled people. I mean quite literally widows, orphans and disabled people. When Paul Ryan’s dad died, his mom was able to get Social Security. Although they were very rich and they didn’t need it, he likes to brag about the fact that they got it as if they lived off it. In any case. So they were like okay, we doubled the tax on working people but that wasn’t quite enough to fix Social security so what do we do. So Reagan directed the Social Security Administration people to look at ways they could cut Social Security Disability. And they said, ‘Well you know, nobody seems to care about mental health, why don’t we cut that. And so they came up with a whole new definition of mental health and they took the money from mental health and turned it into block grants for the states. And the result of that was that all across the country mental health facilities that were housing people who were not able to function on their own closed their doors and those people showed up on our streets and many of them go by, you know, we know them as homeless people. Now there is a second population of homeless people that we’ve had since Reaganomics, and that’s what used to be middle class people who just can’t get a job and they’ve lost their homes. But back in the ‘80s we still had an FDR economy. You know the economy was still pretty solid. We were living in the era of the New Deal which was from 1933 to 1981. And in that area of the New Deal, we pretty much didn’t have homelessness. But you know so Reagan brought us that. So from devastating our economy to gutting social welfare programs, sending millions of people, thousands of Americans onto the streets, to devastating our image all around the world. I mean you know we attacked Nicaragua after, you know, Reagan did, after congress passed a law saying that he couldn’t. He was selling weapons to Iran after, you know, it seemed like we thought Iran was not our friend. The damage this guy has done to our country is incredible.

Bob, in Fontana, California. You don’t understand?

Bob: I’m just, I just grabbed your program a couple days ago and I’ve been listening and I listen to both sides to try to draw my own conclusion, you know? And I am just trying to figure out, you know, I hear you always complaining about Reagan, hey that’s all fine and dandy, I like to hear what you’ve got to say. But the question I have to ask is if it was so bad why has all the presidents past, after him, hasn’t done anything including this president? Why do you…

Thom Hartmann: Well, Clinton tried to roll back Reaganomics slightly, but you know, what Reagan did was basically he handed the keys to the government, to the kingdom, over to the fat cats, the banksters, the transnational corporations. And so you know Clinton ran, if you go back and read his New Covenant speech from 1992, he ran on a platform of restoring FDR’s New Deal. And there have been numerous stories about this, including in major media like the New York Times, about a week before he took office Alan Greenspan and Jamie Rubin sat him down and said ‘Well young man, you think you’re going to do that but that’s not how the world works anymore. The political parties are now controlled by big money and you’re going to dance to the tune of big money.’ And so he raised taxes three points, you know he took the top tax rate up by three percentage points. But that wasn’t even close. I mean Reagan had dropped it from 74% down to 28%. Clinton took it from 36 up to 39%. It was nothing. So I would say that Clinton didn’t do it because frankly I don’t think that he had the power or the courage to do it.

And Obama hasn’t done it I think in part because he doesn’t have the power or the courage to do it, and in larger part because everything Obama has tried to do has been opposed by a relatively small but very powerful cabal of republicans who met the night that Obama was inaugurated at the Caucus Room Restaurant here in Washington DC, it’s well documented. Afterwards one of them said ‘We are going to follow the Taliban, we’re going to do an insurgency, we’re going to make sure that the Obama presidency is a complete and utter failure. We will not allow him to have any successes.’ And other than an 11-week window before Scott Brown got sworn in, an 11 week window in the history of the United States Senate where Obama had a veto, or a filibuster-proof majority, other than that the republicans have filibustered everything he has tried.

I mean Nancy Pelosi passed over 300 pieces of good legislation out of the house including one that would have stopped the practice of outsourcing our jobs. It would have stopped tax breaks for companies like, you know, Mitt Romney’s company that shut down that factory Sensata in Ohio or Illinois wherever it was, and shipped it brick by brick over to China. They got a tax break for doing that. They got paid by our government for doing that. And Pelosi reversed that and said in fact we’re going to give a tax break to those companies that have moved overseas that bring their factories back to the United States. And what happened, it went to the Senate and republicans filibustered it. It was the best thing for America, it was the best thing for working people, it was the major reversal of Reaganomics. Republicans blocked it.

So I stand behind what I said, I stand on this round. If we want America to once again be a functioning country, we need to roll back Reaganomics.


Thom Hartmann: Well Rick Perry really stepped in it after Wendy Davis the state senator who filibustered the attempts of the republicans to shut down most of the abortion clinics in the state and restrict a woman’s right to get an abortion in that state, beyond what was defined by Roe v. Wade. His response to her was to say she was a teenage mom and she is the child of a single parent, her mother was a single parent, she is a single parent child. Or she was the child of a single parent and she was a teenage mom. Right. So Wendy Davis, in fact here’s what Rick Perry said. “In fact even the woman who filibustered the senate the other day was born under a difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate." Oh gee, you think? Senator Wendy Davis responds, saying, “Rick Perry’s statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds. They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view. Our governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly Governor Perry fails that test." Good on you, Wendy Davis. Wendy Davis has become a national rock star. I think it’s fascinating, it’s just fascinating.

James, in Englewood, Colorado, listening on AM760 in Denver. Hey James, what’s up?

James: Hey Mr. Hartmann, how are you doing? I listen to your show all the time, this is the first time I have actually called in. So you were talking about the early ‘80s and how, you know, Reaganomics was dumping mentally ill people onto the street and I have to say I was, I wasn’t mentally ill but I was one of those persons that was dumped onto the streets. In 1983 I was a foster child in Los Angeles County Child Protection Services. MacClaren Hall to be exact. And once they began losing funding they began just bussing children by the dozens and just depositing them throughout Los Angeles County, on the streets.

Thom Hartmann: Really?

James: It’s just, oh yeah. Absolutely amazing. A time of my life I will never forget.

Thom Hartmann: And you were one of them. How old were you?

James: I was 16. And they…

Thom Hartmann: And you just got dumped on the street. Good luck kid, have fun.

James: Yeah. Well no, I mean, they gave, they gave us, if you were lucky enough to have a relative to go to, an aunt, an uncle, a brother or sister, they would take you there. I was very unfortunate in the sense that I only had had a father before I was put in foster care and he passed away December 25, 1981, yeah Christmas Eve. And from 1981 to 1983 I was in an institution called MacLaren Hall. And once they had, you know run out of funding, ran out of money, or ran out of empathy, whatever you wanted to call it, you know, they gave you $10, a set of clothes, and you know where do you want to go?

Thom Hartmann: Wow. Where’d you go?

James: I went to a city, I picked a city on a map actually, I think it was called Downey. And the age of 16 I began stealing just to support myself.

Thom Hartmann: That’s incredible.

James:And wound up in juvenile hall and, I mean it’s just, you know a mess. You know, fortunately I was able to pull myself out of that. But yeah, I mean those were really dark horrible times, for people that didn’t have a family or didn’t have a means.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah. For anybody in need.

James:And it’s real. It was real. It was real. And anytime anybody says that that type of stuff did not happen, bull crap. It happened. It happened.

Thom Hartmann: James, thank you for sharing your story with us. And good on you for climbing out of it. That’s, was there an additional point you wanted to make or was that pretty much it?

James:No, that’s it. I think I’ve shot my fire.

Thom Hartmann: Okay, James, thanks. Thanks a lot for the call. It was brilliant. That’s a keeper.

Lewis, in Woodbury New Jersey. Hey Lewis.

Lewis: Mr. Thom Hartmann, thank you for taking my call sir.

Thom Hartmann: You’re welcome.

Lewis: I am listening to you almost two years now, I am five days on the road, five days a week on the road and I have to admit that you are a soldier of information and very educational, sir.

Thom Hartmann: Well thank you.

Lewis: When I open the television or radio, I am looking for four characteristics. Information, knowledge, passion, and a code of honor. And you possess all of those characteristics sir.

Thom Hartmann: Thank you very much. Are you saying all these nice things because you’re going to whack me upside the head here next?

Lewis: No, no, no I’m not.

Thom Hartmann: So what’s on your mind, Lewis?

Lewis: You are not going to find those on the corporate media, especially Fox News, but let me proceed with my point, my comment. Yesterday you had a, at the beginning of your show, you had a gentleman expressing the argument from Justice Scalia.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah.

Lewis: Referring to DOMA, I’m paraphrasing, the Supreme Court strike out, claiming unconstitutional and the federal government shall not have the right to discriminate. His argument was if a same-sex married couple moves from one state to another, which the laws are different, what will be the position of the Internal Revenue Service and which state laws will enforce? And the answer to me it looks, it seems clear. I will argue that The Internal Revenue Service should not be abdicated to comply with any state laws and on the federal level the Internal Revenue Service is representing the federal government, collecting federal taxes.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah, I agree with you, I agree with you. And in fact if somebody gets married in Mexico or in Canada or in England, and whether it’s a gay couple or a straight couple, the IRS doesn’t say you know, we’re not going to consider you married because of where you were married, you know, so.

Lewis: Exactly.

Thom Hartmann: I agree with you.

Lewis: On the other hand, the states, they can implement their own laws collecting taxes. For instances, which, the most important issue is the federal taxes in this instance.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah.

Lewis: So I appreciate that that you agree with me because I value your opinion very much and thank you for the opportunity to talk to you.

Thom Hartmann: Oh thank you Lewis. Certainly, thank you for the call, very nice to hear from you.

Christopher in Ocean Park, Washington. Hey Christopher, what’s up?

Christopher: Hi thanks for taking my call. I was wondering about the Supreme Court striking down Section 4. Why couldn’t Congress just say okay then it’s going to apply to all 50 states and not have it be discriminatory against any?

Thom Hartmann: In other words, people, gay people have the right to be married in any state?

Christopher: No I’m talking about the Voting Rights Act.

Thom Hartmann: Oh, the Voting Rights Act, Okay. Section 4. Right.

Christopher: If they just said why don’t we make section 4 apply to all 50 states instead of just a few.

Thom Hartmann: Right. In other words they could have inverted their logic. They could have said times have changed, but racism is still with us. So henceforth now and forever world without end amen, instead of only applying to those states where we used to have problems with racism now we’re detecting problems with racism in other states as well and so we’re going to say that, we’re going to strike down Section 4, we’re going to essentially rewrite Section 4, which the court has asserted its ability to do, and by rewriting Section 4 we’re essentially going to say all states have to pre-clear any changes.

You know, I think, Christopher, you make an excellent point. And I think that it is something that the court could have, and I would argue, should have done. Because now you’ve got states like Wisconsin and Michigan and Indiana and Ohio that have been, and Pennsylvania, that have been taken over by right wing republicans even though they’re blue states. But you know, by pouring enormous amounts of money into them to use them as incubators, as test sites, for other states, a small handful of billionaires have basically taken over these states and they’re trying out stuff. I mean, you know the DeVoss family, pouring money into the Republican Party in Michigan and then the Emergency Manager laws. Let’s see what happens if we just do away with democracy in Detroit. And you know, these are all incubator tests. And the Supreme Court should have looked at those and said, you know this is even worse than it was in the ‘60s in some ways.

Now in the decision they point out people aren’t being murdered anymore. I would disagree, frankly. I would say that we, and in fact now we’re, we have state executions. Most people on death row are black. But, and yet most people in our country are not. And so, you know, I would say we’re still, you know, racism is alive and well and in many ways even worse, arguably. But that said, it’s also institutionalized. As Joe Madison said on this program a couple days ago, it’s not Jim Crow anny more, it’s James Crow, esq. So excellent point, Christopher. Thanks for calling and making it.

Harry in Seattle, Hey Harry.

Harry: Hey Thom. Hope your arm gets better soon.

Thom Hartmann: Thank you. What’s up?

Harry: Do you think if you were to go to the Reagan Library that there would be any reference to the fact that his agents before the election went behind the backs of the Carter Administration and had dealings with the Iranians which is contrary to the law and told them that they would be able to get parts for military aircraft if they would just not release the hostages until Jimmy Carter had left office.

Thom Hartmann: Right. As attested to by the President of Iran, Mr. Bani-Sadr himself, who wrote about this in the Christian Science Monitor, just four or five weeks ago. And yeah, you’re absolutely right. And I guarantee you that will not be in the Reagan Library that Reagan committed treason. And it should be. It should be the sign that hangs in the front door. Harry thanks for the call. I mean literally, make a sign for the front door. Read Barbara Honegger's book "October Surprise". Here it is. 45 minutes past the hour. Reaganomics. To paraphrase Nancy, “Just say ‘No’."

Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.

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